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Archive for the ‘Pornography’ Category

The Lessons of Porn, Expanded

Referring back to this post on the effects porn had on my sexuality and particularly how I perceived “sex” and the narrowing of what was pleasurable for me, I wanted to write another post about stimulus and conditioning. Especially since people seem to believe that this is some isolated phenomenon, and it’s just not.

One of the things I noted about pornography was that it actually limited the pleasure I could find in sex or masturbation when it wasn’t “aided” by porn, and that it warped my definition of sex so that it consisted almost entirely of penetration, performed pretty mechanically by two or more partners—it could have been anyone, not just me; all that mattered was that penetration happened. It was really about as sexy as a hammer striking a block repeatedly: if you have a healthy sexuality, not at all.

Carnism warped my perception of what “filling” food was. Some months after going vegan, I remember looking at the cover of The Complete Vegan Cookbook and thinking that even eating all that couldn’t fill me up—and it was a depiction of probably more than two thousand calories and four pounds of roasted vegetables! Corn, potatoes, peppers, garlic—that was just the beginning; I can’t even remember all the varieties of food pictured.

Needless to say, I was being pretty ridiculous; it was purely a problem of distorted perception. After several years of being vegan—almost entirely without omnisubs or “meaty” products like tempeh and tofu—the same picture would seem to me an inordinate amount of food, a veritable feast.

Other carnists do this too; one of my friends, who works at Subway, is vegan too and regularly has to deal with comments from customers and coworkers about how the Veggie Delite (sans cheese, nonvegan condiments and patty, natch) just wouldn’t fill them up. The hilarious thing is the maximum amount of meat you’ll get for a six inch is four ounces; mostly you get two to three ounces—the bread is literally the most filling part of the entire sandwich. On top of that, people who say that it isn’t filling have usually never actually tried it—or they only got one or two vegetables at best.

Carnism makes you feel that the only real sustenance is contained in animal products; it warps your perception.

But one of the most interesting experiences for me, taste-wise, was fruitarianism—i.e. 2,000 calories a day specifically from fresh semitropical or tropical fruit, a large salad usually consisting of two heads of lettuce, and every other day or so some avocado, coconut or nuts. I’ve heard rather pretentious vegans remark that you have to like, go to culinary school to have “good enough” tastebuds. (I had no idea that you could be a classist Marxist; thanks, Vincent!) Now, one of the most interesting thing was just how my tastebuds changed.

Without letting myself go hungry, the flavors of fresh food became exponentially more vibrant when they’d already been delicious to begin with; I could taste the sweetness and saltiness of romaine, chard, spinach and the peculiar sweetness of sour limes. But even then, the taste of food became really impossible to explain in terms of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness—much the same way that the joy of sex is impossible to explain with a sexual terminology tainted by porn, or to someone currently limited by pornthink.

Anoretics generally suffer from a lack of flavor—food becomes bland: you have to add salt or mustard, chew gum constantly, something to get a constant rush of flavor. It’s the same for people who are suffering from mineral or vitamin or protein deficiency—food loses its luster; you become depressed and listless and lose any interest in eating. This was a diametrically opposed experience.

What was also interesting was that when I began eating cooked foods again—for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because of capitalism, which is unfortunate because tropical fruit makes humans feel good—it was incredibly… bland.

I also couldn’t stand nearly as much salt anymore; it overpowered the food and ruined the flavor. Salt has its own flavor too, you know; a lot of the time I find this is actually the biggest reason why carnists find vegan food “bland.” There’s just not enough salt in it, and they’re used to salt.

This leads to my point: when you regularly condition yourself to a certain substance, you lose your ability to enjoy the same activities without that substance—usually to a greater rather than lesser degree. When I was younger and tried food without salt, it wasn’t that it had no taste; it had taste, I just couldn’t enjoy or appreciate it.

I literally built up a tolerance to a substance that was supposedly non-habit forming. My taste buds—my brain—got conditioned to only recognize flavor in the presence of salt; similarly, when you consume porn, your brain becomes conditioned to recognize sexiness and arousal only in the context of pornified sex (which basically isn’t very much like sex).

But my primary reason for writing this post was this: technology screws up your ability to enjoy life.

That could sound silly, coming from somebody who’s clearly writing this on a computer. But since I’ve realized just how badly technology impairs my ability to enjoy life, and to be fascinated and fulfilled by nature, I’ve actually been restricting my use of it.

When I lived in a tent with my best friend, I… experienced life, and joy, for the first time ever. Nothing in civilization can ever compare to the enjoyment of life I had then; you can’t experience true joy or fulfillment as long as you are bound to civilization. The reason I chose—and still long for—fruitarianism is that it is the only time that I can get any kind of approximation of that wholeness… 811rv allows you to experience the closest approximation of real life, of nature, that you can get in civilization.

And I had all these beliefs about nature and who I was and what I was capable of just utterly destroyed.

You know how teens and college-aged kids get bored when they’re sitting outside in nature? How older people can sit, and sit, and sit, and be entertained—by looking around or playing solitaire or just thinking? I was one of those kids too. I swore that I’d just die of boredom if I was ever caught without technology—my laptop, my GBA, my iPod… something to take me away from the slowness of nature.

Except that the opposite happened. I had my iPod, and I didn’t use it because I was just endlessly entertained, by talking, by thinking and by watching; I found an almost Buddhist sense of spirituality. There is this certain kind of… sense that is reinforced in you by even a temporary detox from technology, of the inferiority of civilization and human “ingenuity” in the face of nature. I completely lost any appreciation for architecture I once had, because architecture has no real visual texture; the intricacies of a tree—of a living organism—are endless. It redefines beauty. I like to say that of the entirety of what Yeshuah said, “Sell all your things and give them to the poor; and come, follow me,” was the most literal. You can’t have any understanding of love, life, and joy, of the inherent goodness and truth of nature, unless you are a wanderer… unless you reject civilization absolutely. Everything you think you know about the ruthlessness and callous violence of nature, and about the “benefits” of civilization, is a laughable lie. Nature may not necessarily be kind but it certainly isn’t cruel—it won’t hurt you simply because it doesn’t have a reason not to.

When I was forced back into “shelter,” it was awful—you don’t have any idea how it is to feel joy, to feel freedom, to finally understand what it means to say that nature is good, and to just… have that ripped away from you.

The worst part, I think, is that it’s never very long before you forget what it was like Before. Maybe it’s just too much for your mind to really comprehend—nature is not, after all, cruel or malicious; you reach a point where “pain” and “sadness” don’t really exist because there’s not much to compare it to anymore, it’s just normal. Just because it would be so much more painful to remember what it was like to be free, to be safe. The idea that you have to know sadness to know happiness is total bullshit: it only works one way. You can be happy all the time, because happiness is something default, happiness is necessary if you’re going to survive in nature. But you cannot be sad all the time without becoming numb, without forgetting what happiness ever was.

Eventually you’re just left with this uneasy wistfulness for an indistinct memory: you knew. You knew it was better… but you can’t remember anymore.

Technology still does this to me—to everyone; it conditions your brain to a faster but less detailed speed, to a speed where you actually can’t process many details. It conditions your brain to a lower textural quality while ramping up simplistic intensity to compensate.

You can look at movies from different eras to see my point; movies have gotten faster and faster as time has gone on, as advertising has had to continuously compete for effect and audience. I remember a point where I watched Star Wars in my early teens and actually thought it was kind of slow-paced. The same has happened with music, but I’m not glorifying the Beatles; their music also encouraged the loss of musical texture and complexity. Jonsi and Sigur Ros and 65daysofstatic are actually some of my favorite music because their music is so complex and filled with texture.

One of the most damaging things technology does, though, is make you impatient. Car drivers, gamers, television watchers, and even casual internet users become incredibly impatient; I don’t think you really hear or see yourselves. I also become incredibly impatient; I’m more likely to snap at my best friend if I’ve been using the computer at all, I’m more jittery and needy of stimulus. It makes you impatient.

And tired. Incredibly tired. Video games have the same effect on me, even for a small time, but if I keep playing I become overstimulated and can’t get to sleep, the same way as when I try to stay up when I’m tired.

Speaking of which, I’m very tired, so I’m going to end this post now.

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Vanilla is Really Tasty (especially when you haven’t got that nasty porn taste in your mouth)

Here’s the list of “vanilla privilege.” What can I say, I got bored and irritated.

* A vanilla person does not have to fear that discovery of their being vanilla will have an effect on their work life.

Wait. What do you mean by “discovery”? It’s generally a good idea to keep your sex life out of work, especially because your coworkers do not appreciate it, but you can be “vanilla” and in a same-sex relationship—or does that magically count as “non-vanilla”?

* A vanilla person usually does not have to worry about the potential legal implications of sex in the manner they prefer with a consenting adult partner.
* A vanilla person does not have to worry about their being vanilla as having bearing on whether they are considered fit to be parents.

I’m fairly sure there aren’t any legal implications other than losing your children when you’re “non-vanilla,” at least in the U.S. But it’s pretty hard to argue that Peacock Angel is speaking to non-Western countries, since the idea of “kink oppression homigosh” is basically a non-issue when you’re not a privileged brat. Also notice the erasure of intimate same-sex or polyamorous relationships that do not include power dynamics, porn, or kink.

* A vanilla person doesn’t have to worry about their being vanilla being thought of as diseased or pathological.

Oh, yeah—you know, I never get thought of as repressed or uptight or a religious zealot or that I’m somehow just hiding some terrible fetish and pretending to be egalitarian. And I never get told this to my face, either, the same way lesbians never get told that there’s something wrong with them for not wanting to fuck men.

* A vanilla person will have an easier time finding depictions of people with sex lives similar to their own in the media.

Wheeeee no.

Anyone who takes this seriously is disconnected from reality; just for a start, “vanilla” sex is predicated upon a power dynamic of a passive partner and an aggressive one—a “man” and a “woman.” The “traditional” idea of sex—as a heterosexual, monogamously married relationship consisting mostly of missionary PIV and maybe you can talk her into licking your stick—is rife with power dynamics, and inherently not “vanilla” at all. It’s simply beyond me how anyone with an introduction to privilege-dynamics can refer to “vanilla” sex as somehow fundamentally different from what’s defined as “kinky.” Porn makes you incapable of thinking, I guess.

But even more than that, nooot really. Gather together 100 depictions of a sexual relationship from recent television shows and 100% of it will be power dynamics. If you go for references to sex from recent television shows (between adults, not children), you’re likely to find that about 75% of them can refer to “kinky” sex.

And again, because “vanilla” sex isn’t by any means egalitarian or non-pornified, I can’t find any depictions of people with sex lives similar to my own. I’m more fucking oppressed than you!

* A vanilla person will not have their sexual orientation called into question due to their sexual practices.

That’s pretty funny, because the fact is that Peacock Angel doesn’t seem to allow for “vanilla” gays and lesbians or triads. Zie doesn’t seem to be aware that zie is, therefore, questioning the sexuality of “vanilla” gays and lesbians because of their sexual practices.

* A vanilla person will have comparably easy access to reliable dealing with safety surrounding their sexual practices.

Oh, right. Because, you know, there’s so much correct information on the proper use of condoms and dental dams out there, as well as how to use them how to have sex e.g. proper stretching practices, not to mention the plethora of materials surrounding consent that are taught to you from a very young age. And not to mention access to STD protection, contraceptives, and abortion!

I live in a motherfucking utopia. Thank you for showing me the fucking light.

* A vanilla person seeking medical attention due to an accident that occurred during sex will not face scrutiny or be treated unsympathetically because of the nature of the vanilla nature of their sexual activity.

You know it! Women of any age never face scrutiny and unsympathetic medical staff when they have to resolve problems from their “vanilla” sex life.

* Vanilla is not used as a pejorative.

Okay, this one is absolutely true. The mainstream culture, which is in love with “vanilla” misogynistic power dynamics, never uses “vanilla” to mean that you have some kind of mental or personal flaw. No one is ever pressured into having sex they don’t want to have by being told they’re too “vanilla” as if it implies those same mental and personal flaws.

Heck, vanilla is so not used as a pejorative that Peacock Angel is actually using it to refer to real vanilla! All you folks who thought zie was defining you out of existence were simply imagining things.

VANILLA BEANS! HOORAY!

* A vanilla person will not be assumed to be a sexual predator because of their vanilla sexual practices, nor will language used to refer to vanilla people as a group be used to describe rapists and perpetrators.

… ? Besides the language that the kinksters adopted for themselves (sadist, slave, etc.), there’s not much that you can say is used against kinksters that’s also used against rapists. And perpetrators of what, exactly? Power dynamics?

Anyway, I can’t imagine why anyone would attribute sexual predatoriness to someone who finds domination and power erotic. After all, rape isn’t about power and domination at all; they’ve got nothing to do with each other.

* A vanilla person will have an easy time finding media that portrays people with their sexual preferences sympathetically and accurately.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHA

HA

ARGH.

(P.S. The Department of Redundancy Department called; they said they’d like to see if you could come in for a job interview so that they can see about giving you a job to work at for your career.)

* Vanilla people will never have their sexual practices used for shock value.

???

“Vanilla” power dynamics, including groping, sexual harassment, and boys-will-be-boys exploitativeness: not used for shock value.
Egalitarian lesbian, het and gay sex (poly optional): not used for shock value.

… Um, alright. How do I get a ticket to the dimension Peacock Angel is living in?

* A vanilla person does not have to worry about outsiders perceiving their relationship as abusive or pathological.

Hahahaha. Yeah. Having egalitarian sex isn’t weird at all.

Obviously, to correct this we need to acknowledge the truth: that “vanilla” sex is abusive and pathological, too. Then we can have actual, interesting, non-pornified sex where our fantasies aren’t fed to us from a male- and white-privileged hegemony.

* Safe spaces for vanilla courtship and socializing are not privilege to legal harassment in the way BDSM clubs are.

Exactly! Those safe spaces for “vanilla” courtship and socializing have to be kept free for sexual harassment.

* A vanilla person will not have their being vanilla brought up during a rape investigation (either as accuser or accused)

OH SHIT I THINK I JUST PEED MYSELF LAUGHING.

C’mon, Peacock Angel. Cough it up. How do I travel to the world you’re living in? Because seriously, I want to live there instead. I have social-ideology incongruity and I need to transition but hard.

* Vanilla people can assume their relationship partners will not find their sexual arousal pattern disgusting.

Someone’s never read The Hite Report or The Hite Report on Male Sexuality, I see. Or seen or heard the thousands of casual or joking jabs about how women are just so hard to bring to orgasm, or how it’s disgusting to go down on someone’s vulva, etc. etc. etc.

For a kinkster, Peacock Angel sure is awful sheltered.

* A vanilla person will not fear their sexual practices counting against them in a divorce.

Again, sheltered. When you speak in absolutes, you better be damn sure of them. Either people who are “vanilla” are not mainstream—they actually constitute a small minority—and Peacock Angel has just decided that they’re not kinky enough, or Peacock Angel doesn’t know jack shit about the world, or the definition of “vanilla” is absolutely incoherent.

If you checked D) All of the above, here’s an internet cookie. Nibble on it with joy.

* A vanilla person will not be asked about the origins of their sexual arousal pattern, or have it assumed their sexual arousal pattern stems from trauma or disease.

Again with the LGBTAP erasure: apparently you’re just not allowed to define yourself as non-kinky if you’re not the 1% of the world that’s in a heterosexual monogamous marriage completely devoid of anything but missionary-style PIV and of whom both partners were virgins when they got married.

Just, I… this is really incoherent.

* A vanilla person will not have to worry much about their roommate discovering their vanilla-ness.

Yes; everyone knows that it’s a perfectly comfortable situation for your roommate to know details about your sex life as long as you’re “vanilla.”

For which you apparently do not have to be married, even, meaning that a good fourth of this list doesn’t even apply to any of the people Peacock Angel considers “vanilla.”

* A vanilla person’s actions will not be attributed to their being vanilla. (Many people link people’s bad actions to their kinkiness, “Well of course he’s a thief, he’s kinky”)

Yeah, that never happens to “vanilla” peeps… I’ve never heard of any case where a young woman’s actions were attributed to the fact that she wasn’t a virgin or anything. Or promiscuity being attributed to gay men and bisexuals. Or a hatred for men attributed to lesbians.

* Symbols of vanilla affection/romance will not be appropriated as “edgy” fashion statements (E.G. collars)

Exactly, they’ll just be appropriated as non-edgy fashion! Now everyone can “enjoy” patriarchal power dynamics! Because it’s not like we’re not forced into it anyway!

P.S.: Any community that tolerates a subset labeling itself as and eroticising/glorifying slavery has exactly 0.000% of the room in the world to talk about “appropriation.” Seriously, Peacock Angel even identifies zemself as a dominatrix—like that hasn’t been used as a tool of oppression.

* Discovery of equipment associated with vanilla sexual practices, provided they are otherwise privileged (condoms, lubricant, even a vibrator) although embarrassing will not result people’s drastically changing their opinion of the person in question.

Um, exactly what the fuck are you talki—oh, right. Sorry, for a minute there I forgot that Peacock Angel is actually living in an alternate dimension, where this is not complete bullshit and a painful mockery of reality, particularly in countries where the female-born sex class have little to no hope of being able to attain the kind of “oppression” Peacock Angel is talking about. Carry on.

* A vanilla person will not have their masculinity/femininity called into question because of their dominance/submission in bed (I.E. A woman who enjoys being sexually dominant may be called unfeminine, or a man who enjoys being sexually submissive may be called unmasculine)

Of course not. They’ll have their masculinity/femininity called into question because of their lack of dominance/submission in real life! No doy, you stupid radscum fauxminists.

(Extra credit: why is being “unfeminine” or “unmasculine” to someone without power over you a bad thing?)

* The discovery of a famous person having vanilla sex (provided it is within the other realms of privileged sex, monogamous, heterosexual, etc) will not be considered news worthy.

* A vanilla person’s sex related equipment (E.G. Condoms, lubricant, dental dams) will be regulated by government agencies and tested thoroughly for efficacy and safety.

Yeah, exactly! Everyone knows that condoms, lubricant and dental dams aren’t, like, actually necessary to have any kind of healthy and non-reproductive sexual activity, “vanilla” or not. It’s not like they could jeopardize anyone’s life or health if they’re defective, after all! Those things are “sex-related equipment” in exactly the same way that bondage gear and restraints are for the kinksters! It’s not like condoms, lubricant and dental dams are basic STD and contraceptive protection and kinky “sex-related equipment” is restricted to people with the class privilege to buy them! All types of sexual activity are equal, dammit! Peacock Angel and the other kinksters deserve floggers as a basic right on par with minimum safe-sex materials!

Oh man, this is so exciting. Peacock Angel is all over there like GET UP STAND UP STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS to perpetuate a patriarchal sexuality that eroticises power, pain and dominance. ROCK ON!

* Vanilla people can find numerous studies relating to their sexuality and sexual desire from the scientific community that do not treat them as marginal or pathological.

Hahahahaha. Okay. So what’s the punchline?

* A vanilla person can count on the media to usually get the symbols associated with their relationships generally right (Here’s an example of the media getting it wrong, dominants generally don’t wear collars)

Oh my gosh, someone somewhere depicted a dominant wearing a collar! THAT’S LIKE BLACKFACE, GUIZE.

* There is accurate medical research on the effects of vanilla sex upon the human body, kinky people are left with scraps here and there and anecdotal evidence. We still don’t know if it’s safe to flog breasts.

Yeah, you know, they even tested water on animals. Freakin’ water, I’m not even kidding, even though we already knew the effects of water on an animal body. I know, right? Hilarious, or something. Vivisectionists will use any excuse to torture animals to death for grant money.

Huh? What? Oh. Alright, define “safe.” Free of power dynamics? Free of patriarchal imagery? Free of discomfort and pain? Free of a culture that sees violence and force as erotic?

* A vanilla person will not worry about how their vanilla-ness reflect upon their gender, sex, sexuality, age group, etc etc etc.

Sheltered.

* A person’s political beliefs will not be called into question due to their being vanilla. (For example, a heterosexual man who identifies as a feminist and acts as a good feminist but is sexually dominant may be told he is a bad feminist for enjoying a dominant role during sex, same for a heterosexual female submissive, or a sexually dominant woman may be called an angry feminist due to her preference for a dominant role during sex)

What? Wow, sheltered. Apparently Peacock Angel has never encountered politics in regards to LGBTA before.

* A vanilla person will have an easy time finding a counsellor who understands and is sympathetic towards their vanilla sexual practices.

A… counselor? Like, a therapist? A psychologist? A grief counselor? A hypnotist? A school career counselor? Or just “a counselor”? Is this one of those things that exists only in Peacock Angel’s dimension?

* Vanilla-ness is not vilified or exotified by the media (For exotification/vilification of the kink community check out basically any CSI/Bones/Law and Order type show with an episode that deals with kink, or numerous episodes of shows like 1000 Ways To Die)

Well, yeah, that’s true. Heterosexist power dynamics within relationships, and especially within sexual relationships, are just treated like they’re a requirement for a normal sexual life. It’s actually really depressing. Zie’s finally gotten one right.

* A vanilla person can remain ignorant of terms involved in BDSM.

And apparently a kinkster can do an entire list on “vanilla” privilege without ever being able to define what “vanilla” is in a way that doesn’t erase LGBTAP people or contradict zeir own point—either by proving that the population of “vanilla” people is actually close to nonexistent. Or being so consistently incoherent that zie actually proves that the idea of “vanilla privilege” is actually just a dog-whistle phrase with moveable goalposts for kinksters to play around with and pretend they’re oppressed.

* A vanilla person will not be assumed to be sexually experienced because of their vanilla-ness.

Seriously, what does this even mean?

* Vanilla is not taken to mean sexually available.

That only makes sense if you actually define “vanilla” to mean things that specifically are not taken to mean sexually available. (Also, I guess you’re not “vanilla” if you’re single. Eh?)

* A vanilla person can go their entire life without being called vanilla.

Yeah, in countries where they don’t have the word “vanilla” and cult compounds. Just, what is this I don’t even—

* As always, most importantly, a vanilla person can ignore their vanilla privilege.

Translation: if you can clearly see that I am full of shit and that the world does not work the way I think it does, YOU’RE PRIVILEGED!

The Lessons of Pornography

So I wanted to point out the wondrous Elkballet again (I’m really digging that blog) on a particularly compelling post on the effects of porn. In large part because it’s all fucking true.

I watched porn regularly to masturbate for about two years beginning from when I was twelve. It took me more than six years after that point to really rid me of its effect enough to make an impact—of course, it didn’t help that I kept reinforcing the pornthink by repeatedly calling up the images and tropes when I was masturbating. I did this because, like Elkballet, masturbation wasn’t as fun or stimulating without it; it was years before I managed to masturbate to orgasm without using pornthink in some way.

When I first saw my boyfriend again, I found porn images would pop into my head during sex. I would have trouble being turned on, even orgasming without at least briefly calling up images I had seen. I would sometimes wish I could hop online and quickly look up images so things would go easier. Images would randomly pop into my head, without my meaning for them to. Without even realizing I had done it I developed a voyeuristic attitude towards sex. I wanted to watch him do things to himself, to me. I was even pressuring him into performing things, asking repeatedly despite him telling me it made him uncomfortable. I had stopped looking up porn, but my brain wouldn’t allow me to stop seeing it.

Check, check, check and check.

Looking back, one of the most bizarre and disturbing distortions that porn caused in my mental state was that I dissociated from my body during sex. I saw myself from outside—I saw myself having sex instead of actually being within my body, having sex. I became voyeuristic, too: sex developed into a series of actions. Me doing to my partner. My partner doing to me. As Catharine MacKinnon said—subject verb object.

There was none of the sense of sharing and being together that I now consider one of the best parts of sex; it was very mechanical and automated, though not in the way you’d typically think. Instead sex was segregated into roles—the top; the bottom; the sadist; the masochist; the dom and the sub. One was done to and one was doing to, except if the one usually done to was the one commanded to do. In case you can’t tell, I also became obsessed with BDSM; if you’re interested in it, it’s actually quite boring and you should stop and detox for a while. Forcing sex into a series of actions where one partner is passive/submissive and one partner is active/dominant stops you from ever getting to see how fucking awesome sex really is. It kept me from being able to see it for a fucking long time; I saw my partners as mechanical, too—like they were characters: they were just vehicles for the actions that were “hot,” as determined by porn—penetration, no doy.

Even when my partners persuaded me to stop being so intent on doing things and to simply relax, I couldn’t figure out what to do. Enjoying the sensation is alright, but it gets old fast. In porn, people don’t really, like, touch each other when they have sex—which is just beyond sterile; I can’t figure out why anyone would find it attractive anymore.

And you learn sex from porn; even if you don’t think you do, you do. Even if you think you already know about sex, the way you have sex will change if you start using porn. I had to go through a very painful growth period where I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands if I wasn’t doing something to my partner.

Porn inhibited my ability to have sex with another person; I learned not to have sex with my partner, but to be preoccupied with porn. I’d say that porn was my sexuality for a good chunk of my life—that my sex life was haunted by the ideas of sexiness and hotness contained in porn, acting as a go-between for my partner and I, instead of merely allowing us to have sex.

Eventually I got over that. I’m still getting over it. But while I’ve recognized this for a while—recognized just how powerful pornography can be, and just how much it can absolutely cripple your ability to relate sexually to another human—there was another thing that made me decide to post this. I confided in one of my friends, as the post had caught her eye while she was visiting and she went ahead and read it, just how true it was and just how fucking hard ever having watched porn had made any kind of healthy sexuality for me. She replied—and has given permission to me to post about this—that she’s suffered from all of the same distortions in her own sexuality and mental state.

Except she’s never watched porn more than a handful of times, and for their comedic value at that. What caused that shit inside her head was the multiple rapes she endured as a child from grown men.

Rape taught her the same things that porn taught me: sex was penetration; one person was allowed to be active and the other person had to be passive; fear was inherently sexual; dominance was sexy; when having sex, people were really just things—objects using each other. She thought that large, painful penises or inserts were the only things that could be “sexy” and couldn’t stop herself from reducing the people around her into body parts—arms, legs, chest, stomach, butt.

Let me repeat that, more clearly: enduring repeated rapes as a child caused the same worldview changes as porn.

And now more succinctly: porn teaches the same things as rape.

For all the sex poxes may cry otherwise because they’re still having their sexualities warped and twisted by porn, I have to say, because I know better—porn is profoundly anti-sex, anti-sexuality, and just generally hateful shit. It’s much more fun over here.

Oppressors are Incidental

It’s been bugging me recently how uncomfortable I am with pan-subject “safe spaces.” I never feel safe or comfortable in them because I know who the favor is going to go to, and I know that people I love will not, by popular vote, be considered people—and by inference, me: I have more similarities with them than I do with the denizens of the “safe spaces,” usually, which also means that I am not a person by the same qualities I share with them.

Most carnists, though, perceive me as judging them first and foremost. To these people, I get pissed off at humans consuming animal products because of them—when actually this is basically the most inaccurate way possible to think of my beliefs and my anger. And that mistake is because of one fundamental difference in perspective: where the point of consideration begins.

From my point of view, I care about animals. Veganism is about the rights of non-human animals, not about humans, although human rights are also served by veganism.

Doing it the other way around would be like worrying about child abusers before and above children—although this is actually what usually happens, because parents are seen as having a damn near inalienable right to their children as property. Once property status is solidified, any dispute revolves around “acceptable use,” and this is why I couldn’t give a flying fuck about parents and teachers. A focus on the oppressors gives those oppressors way more time than they deserve and it minimizes attention to the people actually being hurt.

To a carnist, they are the first point of consideration—it’s how you can rationalize animal product consumption as being a personal choice, involving primarily you and what you choose to put in your body. So when a carnist hears me say, “I believe animals have rights, especially rights over bodily and environmental sovereignity,” it gets translated in their head into, “I want to stop you from eating what you want to eat because I’m a silly douche.”

And like I said, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about carnists. I believe that rights should not be bargained out of the privileged—they should be taken, and enforced violently if necessary. Having been out in nature more than most people—more than the vast majority once you include the mental isolation from pro-civ ideology—this is rule #1: fucking respect or you will get your ass kicked.

Nevertheless. Carnists are incidental to me:
I) Animals have rights.
II) Carnists infringe on these rights.
III) Therefore, carnists should get the fuck over themselves and stop infringing on animals’ rights.

The primary spotlight of any rights movement needs be on the people they are fighting for, not those they are fighting against. The first two U.S. women’s rights movements worked, to a point, because they focused on women, not on men. I see very little hope for the Third Wave because, ultimately, they want to focus on men and women equally, and successful rights movements do not work that way.

The focus should be on your first point of consideration, as this is basically the major problem with any oppression. Men see rape and think the first point of consideration is them—so you get Julian Assange complaining about a feminist conspiracy, and you get a bazillion and one anklebiters screaming, “But men get raped too!” and “What if she’s lying?” The first point of consideration is on men—women being raped in droves doesn’t matter because men are raped too; girlfriends lie about rape to “get back at their exes” despite it being possibly the worst mode of revenge you could choose, given how likely people are to say, “What if she’s lying!?”

And, actually, that’s one of the main characteristics of privilege. Outrage over being called on privilege comes around largely as a byproduct of having your belief that you are the first point of consideration called out. Basically, if you find yourself coming up with excuses for why it’s not that big an issue—like, “Well, they’re not like me,” or “I have more important things to worry about first,” or any variation therein, congrats. You are contributing to an oppressive structure, and you are succeeding splendidly in not questioning that contribution.

No, for real: if you notice yourself doing that, take yourself up on it immediately and start questioning and looking for information. I have thought these things way too often to be comfortable—though honestly, I think that my comfort level is “once” and then fixing it, so that’s not saying much—and it’s an illuminating experience.

And then change.

That’s the second problem I run into, and it’s basically the only part of veganism that focuses on the carnists’ actions. For me to believe that non-human animals have the right to be left the fuck alone and that humans are not entitled to go mucking around in other species’ lives and ecosystems, I have to believe that, similarly, you are not entitled to be using/ingesting any part of their bodies or anything that comes from their bodies. And that you should, like, stop, ya know?

Yeah. Any radfem who’s had to argue about porn will absolutely understand how hard it is to get someone to change their actions—especially when their actions now result in some amount of personal pleasure. And the reactions from both porn watchers and carnists are identical, whether you’re saying, “You can learn to be egalitarian, sexually,” or “You know, there’s such a thing as millet, rice, oranges, pineapples, mangos…” They’ve never had any concept of another possibility, as real. This is all there is. It’s normal.

But this is, at its basis, the problem. Porn watchers believe that they are the first point of consideration: the women, and how they’re treated, are incidental. Carnists believe that they are the first point of consideration: animals, and how they’re treated, are incidental.

That’s the opposite of what I believe. Women are the first point of consideration, and destroying their property status is first priority—porn watchers are incidental. Non-human animals are the first point of consideration, and destroying their property status is first priority—carnists are incidental. This is a pretty vital point here: even when someone is actively perpetuating the rape, torture, slaughter of many millions and billions of people, you can never lose sight of the real goal. The beneficiaries of liberation need your attention more than the beneficiaries of oppression—after all, those beneficiaries are used to the attention.

Your definition of “people” is different than my definition of “people,” because your definition excludes anyone it would be inconvenient for you to consider. And regardless of whatever arguments you’d like to come up with that are still all about you, that’s still the point—your supposed “needs” are entirely incidental.

Because it is not. about. you.

Transactional Models of Sexuality are Anti-Sex

The transactional model of sexuality is horrendous, and we know this already. But even outside of the paradigm of straight-up rape, it creates the implicit assumption that whenever women are having sex, it’s because they got paid for it somehow, and that whenever a man does anything nice for a woman, he’s entitled to sexual activity sooner or later—justifying rape, since the fact that she accepted the gift (or that he offered it at all) is taken as prospective consent.

Yes, that little bastard of an ideology is also the culprit behind any variation of, “all women are money-sucking whores.”

And it’s also the driving force—and one of the primary justifications behind—defenses of pornography and prostitution. That payment should ever be accepted as a sign of consent is absolutely anti-feminist. This is not the radical feminist stance, it is the feminist stance: that true consent cannot exist in circumstances that require one to “consent.”

When anyone is forced to submit to sexual activity in order to fulfill their basic needs (for example, trading sexual favors for food), we consider that sexual assault at minimum. It’s not like it’s hard to see why consent is problematic in that situation.

Even aside from the sex pox redefinition of “rape” to exclude having to submit to sexual activity because you will starve or freeze, though, the transactional model of sex is harmful to women’s sexual liberation in the view of sexual pleasure at all. Rape can and has been conflated with sex, often. However, as I mentioned earlier, the transactional model of sex also includes the tenet that all women demand money or gifts—payment—for sex, because women have no fundamental interest in sex itself. Men need sex; women do not. Women have no intrinsic interest in sexual pleasure or orgasm.

Because if women did have an intrinsic interest in sexual pleasure and orgasm, it would be unacceptable to approach sex without the assumption that you both were going to try to make sexual pleasure mutual… and it would be downright insulting to offer payment—whether it’s money, jewelry, clothing, relationship stability, whatever—whether sexual pleasure was going to be involved or not. Because it wouldn’t be necessary: if women are human, like men—if women belong to a species with an innate capacity for round-the-clock, non-estrus sexual pleasure—if women are human, like men, then women have an equal interest in mutual, reciprocally pleasurable sex.

Sex is pleasurable. And you can’t really argue that nature doesn’t actively encourage hedonism, even if it is tempered by empathy. Ergo, women have an interest in sex in their own right: because done right, it feels good. There is no reason for men to try to bribe women into sex—and in fact, a bribe implies that consent is not genuine.

And if men are willingly participating in and perpetuating a society that forces women to have sexual activity regardless of whether or not it’s pleasurable for them, but for survival—then men are actively encouraging sexual assault, not because women are not willing to have sex, but for only two reasons: a) men are not willing to consider women’s interest in sexual activity as just as valid as their own, OR b) men get off on sexually assaulting women, and that’s why they perpetuate a society where women must have sex for their safety and survival. Sexual assault comes in a continuum because consent does—however, unlike the sex poxes, I am absolutely unwilling to accept effectively forced consent as anything other than sexual assault.

Because sexual assault strips you of your personhood. It is perpetrated on you whether or not you like it, and often because you don’t like it. And all too often, you have to submit to it because to resist endangers your survival. This is a feminist statement: the decision to have sex should never have to be any part of a calculation on your survival and basic quality of life.

This is not sexy. Being paid for sex is not sexy. But then, anyone who’s been near a porn set knows that it is basically one of the unsexiest places in the world—hospices notwithstanding.

“Sex work is like any other job,” is part and parcel of the transactional model of sex because if you boil it down into its most succinct meaning, it is: “Sex is a job.” Or, alternately, “I have no problem with my lovers feeling as though sex is a job as long as I get laid.” It is something you do in order to get payment from it—without passion, without happiness, because it is a “choice” that is inherently forced, inherently constrained. Pleasure has nothing to do with it. You simply cannot say no.

And believing that is acceptable—that is anti-sex and anti-feminist.

I believe sex is a profoundly good and awesome thing, and that choice should mean something more than just a buzzword that allows you to do whatever the fuck you want, however exploitative, coercive, or depersonalizing it is. Your orgasms are not the only ones that matter. Welcome to women’s sexual liberation.

News: Italian PM Berlusconi Shameless, What Else is New?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi refuses to step down from his position because hey, he only actively sought out women to use as property, because what are women there for if not to titillate men? Something so decorative couldn’t be intended for anything other than decoration, amirite guize?

He’s also accused of buying underage girls, which is probably very much true, but the woman in question says it’s not true. She’s Moroccan to boot—which probably means more if you’re aware of the massive racism alive and well in Italy. But what makes it worse is her own story, as told here. [TW for rape, abuse.] You know, just in case you were inclined to believe that there is such a thing as a happy beginning for pros.

It is not a mistake that in Italy, where the Catholic Church is headquartered, which is still all-male and still notoriously conservative and anti-woman, it isn’t illegal for a man to pay for “sex.” It’s not a coincidence that Italy is still one of the most conservative Western European countries, and that it’s still a hotbed for fascism. It’s not a mistake that even though more women have college degrees than men, less than half of all women are employed, and they aren’t abstaining because of choice. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, the largely male parliament voted against an investigation of his home for evidence for a prosecution. It’s not a mistake that in Italy, fetuses are more precious than women. It’s not a mistake that women in Italy are divided into two groups: housewives and veline (“showgirls”), and it’s not a mistake that both of those groups are property—for the benefit of, enjoyment of, and entertainment of men. It’s not a mistake that being treated as if he did something wrong by using women as property is taken as an attack on Italy itself by the megalomaniacal Berlusconi, but it’s not attacking women to make them into fucking playthings.

It’s not a coincidence that the extremely-Catholic Italy gave the world Mussolini and is still fascist and corrupt, but the similarly extremely-Catholic Spain was anarchist against those Italian fascists, and that they were one of the first nations in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. These things are connected. Sexism, heteronormativity, anarchism fighting against fascism, capitalism, individualism, prostitution, male entitlement. These things are written spray-painted on the wall of history. You ignore these things at your own peril.

From an article I linked earlier:

Decades after a feminist movement helped bring significant changes, including legal abortion and divorce, some argue that Italian women are worse off today than in the past. “It’s as if we’ve gone backwards since the ’70s,” said Antonella Giacobbe, 55, as she attended a recent meeting in Rome of Filomena, a women’s advocacy group.

And:

Women’s rights have gone backwards under the Taliban militia’s rule in Afghanistan in the past 12 months, with tougher restrictions on their employment and no perceptible change to the defacto ban on education.

And every feminist woman I have ever met, saying the same thing. “I feel like we’re moving backwards.”

This is not a mistake. It’s not a coincidence.

It’s so fucking overwhelming.

The Transactional Model of Sex

Okay, you know what, no more. ATTN WORLD: Stop using monetary and transactional analogies for sex and rape. It doesn’t work in a thousand different ways, and in fact the transactional ideology is one of the very basic ideas underlying rape: that one action justifies another action.

Capitalistically*, paying for an item in the store gives you the right to use it. The store originally holds the right—perhaps privilege would be a better word—to the item and you buy it from them.

Payment is a widely accepted action that justifies another action, i.e. you taking it out of the store and using it.

Now, in rape culture, the same standard holds. If you are in a relationship, you are entitled to sex in a similar manner to your entitlement to a potted plant if you pay for it. It is widely accepted that if you do not receive the other side of the transaction—sexual activity, foliage—you are entitled to take it by legal (plant) or coercive (sexual activity) force.

We’ve been over this. That’s Feminism 101 shit right there. Men the world over still believe that if they buy you dinner, they deserve sex in return.

“Entitlement” is a neat way of saying that you feel you deserve something from someone else that a) goes beyond necessities and basic standards of living, b) must be given by them to you (e.g. attention/time/respect, as with mansplaining) and c) that you want it with no regard to any damage it may inflict upon the person you’re demanding from.

When entitlement is widespread and unquestioned, it results both in privilege and power, and vice versa. Rape is not about desire (which would involve caring about your partner desiring it too); it’s about privilege (everyone assuming the transactional method of sexuality is valid), power (ergo, everyone bowing to your “right” to sexual activity) and the ensuing entitlement (that women should also follow the transactional model of sexuality).

Rape is about entitlement—believing that if your partner won’t put out willingly, you can force zem to because you deserve it. The transactional model of sex is a fundamental part of how much you think you deserve to, because you have societally-sanctioned situations in which the onus of rape will be transferred to the victim instead of yourself. Though, if you think about it it’s pretty damn funny, because basically everything is one of those situations.

Here’s another stunner about the transactional model of sexuality—it primarily works to the benefit of men, even non-rapists, because the cultural leverage of transactions can be used to informally coerce a woman into having sexual activity—now with 50% less effort! The transactional model of sex has also historically been used to justify many, many forms of sexual assault as mere sex—and it still is, if you haven’t noticed all the pornography arguments going around.

Because it provides the pretense of women being compensated for sexual activity (an idea which is like, holy shit, anti-sex), the transactional model of sex prevents women’s reports of sexual assault from being culturally validated. If a woman is raped and paid, it doesn’t matter; she must have consented in some way, shape or form—because the transaction itself is taken as implicit consent on the woman’s part. And, vitally, men have historically shaped Eurasian and African cultures so that women often need to accept “payment” for the bare minimum of survival.

Going out to dinner with him was consent. Wearing a short skirt was consent. Flirting with him was consent. Accepting the drink he sent over was consent. Staying in the relationship with him was consent. Not calling the police was consent. Having children with him was consent. Everything she did or didn’t do meant she wanted it.

Today it’s not better, just more codified—and, as always, there are women that are more rape-able than others. Women of color, indigenous women, non-gender conforming women, poor women and foreign women are all exceptionally vulnerable. They’re also seen as exponentially greedier than “normal” women (which is not necessarily white women, but usually depends on the country in which you live) so that every line becomes impregnated with suspicious ulterior motives. And in some cases—Duke, anyone? Assange, anyone?—a rape accusation itself is seen as “payment” for a vicious, vengeful, racist survivor. The cultural stereotypes of women being sexually conniving is ramped up to 11 when it involves a woman who isn’t “normal.”

Fundamentally, the transactional model of sexuality is wrong. Literally (it doesn’t fit human sexuality), ethically (see preceding text) and functionally (it does a massive disservice to virtually everyone who uses it).

And I have no sympathy for anyone who engages in a sexual relationship with this idea in their head… and finds out later that they raped someone. Let’s talk about how you have approximately 0.00% of room to complain.

But I have negative one google sympathy for anyone who, on the basis that their ex might come back and say they were raped, uses transactional analogies** to justify ignoring them.

There isn’t enough NOPE in the world for all that.

*I do not support capitalism in any way, shape or form. This analogy should not be construed in any way as support for any transactional system of oppression.

**Comment: May 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm, but also infinite variations thereof all over the goddamn web, all by men and sex poxes.

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